Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 18
With Amritsar Foundation Day coming up, the city is yet again in for a makeover.
NGOs, including eco-activists, have geared up to carry out five days of green activities to clean and beautify the city. The first on target are the areas inside the walled city, including some heritage spots like old wells that were once part of the water-supply system and narrow lanes.
Among other activities, nature walks, seminars and processions will mark the day along with cleanliness drives inside the walled city. As part of getting people involved in the process, the NGOs, including Eco Amritsar and Voice of Amritsar, had previously too cleaned up some of the filthiest spots inside the city like Bombay Wala Khuh (well), which is considered as one of the oldest and the dirtiest places inside the walled city.
“It was primarily turned into a dump yard and was overflowing with garbage. These places, which otherwise should be marked as heritage spots and maintained by the MC, reek of neglect and public apathy. Cleaning out the dump and then whitewashing it to give out a sound exterior didn’t work well as after a few days, the garbage was back on spot,” says Seenu Arora, president, Voice of Amritsar.
Similarly, most wells dug inside or around the walled city have been lying in neglect, despite best efforts by eco activists to revive them.
“Most of the heritage wells got divided into two categories, one under private ownership, when people expanded their homes and covered these wells inside the premises. And the second category, the public ones, remained drained and turned into garbage dumps. Now, the famous 40 khuh (wells) that were being used till the 1990s as major water supply source, have now been out of use. None has been marked under the protection list or heritage property,” says Prof Balwinder Singh, conservationist from the city.
Taking note, the MC has now been working on a project to revive these wells and use them as rain water harvesting channels. The civic body has already marked and started work on five wells, cleaning them and lining the walls to be used as rain water harvesting systems. Meanwhile, the NGOs too have put their focus on reviving the spots along with public participation.